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Cenozoic Mammals of Africa$
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Lars Werdelin

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257214

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257214.001.0001

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(p.873) Forty-Five Cetacea
Cenozoic Mammals of Africa

Philip D. Gingerich

University of California Press

Cetacea, comprising the great whales and the smaller dolphins and porpoises, have special interest in mammalian evolution as one of the two orders of mammals that became fully aquatic. Much of the 200-million-year-long history of mammals is a history of life on land. Cetacea and Sirenia are exceptions and, of the two aquatic groups, Cetacea is the more diverse and broadly successful. Adaptation to life in water made cetacean morphology sufficiently different to preclude direct comparison to potential land-mammal ancestors. There were morphological and immunological suggestions that cetaceans might be related to Artiodactyla, but none of these claims was convincing by itself. In recent years, the fossil record has helped to clarify both the artiodactyl ancestry of cetaceans among land mammals, and also the nature of the transition. Several comprehensive reviews of cetacean evolution have been published in recent years by authors who are experts on Mysticeti and Odontoceti. These are recommended for a general overview of the fossil record of cetacean evolution. This chapter focuses on Eocene Archaeoceti.

Keywords:   Cetacea, great whales, dolphins, porpoises, cetaceans, evolution, Artiodactyla, Archaeoceti, Mysticeti, Odontoceti

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